A tiered pay system for the Wellington police department was approved Monday by village council, but the addition of a full-time officer has been put on hold.
Both initiatives have been brought up at meetings by chief Tim Barfield over the past year and were raised again Dec. 4. Barfield pointed to high turnover in his department due to frustration with vast differences in pay for equal work and the lack of full-time hours available.
Under the new pay schedule, part-time dispatchers will start at $13.64 with a ceiling of $16.20 after 54 months. A full-time dispatcher will start at $16.20 with the chance to move to $18.28. Part-time officers will move between $15.45 and $21.15 and full-time will make $21.15 to $24.57.
“The tiered system was needed to balance out what we’ve been dealing with,” Barfield said. “With the budget, I completely understand why we can’t afford another full-time person, but it’s a direction we definitely want to move in. I do think there’s strong support for that in council. It’s a budgetary decision.”
Council members unanimously approved the tiered system and all except Guy Wells voted against hiring the additional officer.
The annual cost of hiring a new full-time officer at $21.15 would be $80,000 including benefits, but a projected reduction in part-time hours would make up for $46,000 of that.
Barfield said he hopes to have the tiered pay system in effect sometime in January.
“I have people to hire but I won’t do that until we get this ironed out,” he said. “We just need to calm down this huge turnover. It’s hurt us quite a bit this year.”
Approval of the tiered system will take $25,000 away from a $75,000 general fund budget surplus in 2018, which was created by a change in the village’s distribution of municipal income tax dollars.
Before, 75 percent of that money would go to the general fund and 25 percent to the capital improvement fund. Now, proceeds to the capital improvement fund will be capped at $100,000 regardless of tax revenue.
In 2017, that 25 percent amounted to just over $400,000.
If the part-time officer were approved, its cost would also have been taken away from the general fund.
“I think, of the two issues, it was felt that the tiered pay system would be more important in stabilizing the department at this point,” said village manager Steve Dupee. “Council listened to that and used that information to make their decision.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.